Zenith El Primero Striking 10th LTD. Edition: Party Like It’s 1969


Suddenly, it’s 1969 in Le Locle, Switzerland. The Zenith El Primero Striking 10th Limited Edition is a 42mm stainless steel ode the early years of the grand manufacture’s most famous product. Built in the image of the immortal 1969 Zenith A386 chronograph, the El Primero Striking 10th limited edition of 1,969 pieces is poised to become a classic in its own right.

Zenith El Primero Striking 10th

Zenith‘s traditional strength in watchmaking lifted raised the company’s battered fortunes from the ashes of the late 2000s. After flights of fancy and aesthetic delirium under flamboyant CEO and President Thierry Nataf, Zenith returns to its roots under the more grounded hand of new chief Frederic Dufour.

The Zenith El Primero Striking 10th limited edition of 2011 combines a classic tri-color dial from the first model year of the El Primero chronograph with a robust 42mm steel case and the latest in a long line of El Primero-based movement innovations.

Each element of the dial reads a clear reference to the watches that issued from Le Locle in the final halcyon years of the mechanical watch. Along with its siblings, the A384 and A385, the A386 “TriTone” captured the hearts of enthusiasts who valued inventive engineering and artisanal excellence above all. Zenith captures the imagery of that colorful era in the Striking 10th, but the manufacture offers more; a suite of innovations keep the El Primero relevant and competitive against a hoard of modern pretenders to its throne.

Striking 10th: the name says it all. Truthfully, the Zenith El Primero caliber 4052 “Striking 10th” must be seen in motion to be appreciated in full. While every variant of the El Primero since 1969 has boasted an extraordinary 36,000 VpH beat rate (with chronograph resolution to 1/10 of a second), the practicality of this precision has been undermined by the challenge of discerning these minuscule increments between the 1-second increments of a normal watch dial.

The Zenith El Primero Striking 10th caliber 4052 employs a 100-tooth silicon accelerator wheel in order to propel the red chronograph seconds hand in 10-second circuits of the dial. For each period of 10 seconds that the chronograph runs, the seconds hand makes one complete circuit around the dial. In this fashion, the 10 beats of each second are spread over the dial space accorded to six conventional seconds; special calibrations on the rehaut allow the user to read fractions of a second with ease.

In motion, the Zenith El Primero caliber 4052 presents the spectacle of a foudroyant with the immense scale of a conventional chronograph seconds hand. It’s spectacular and practical at the same time.

Beneath the newest development in Zenith watchmaking, all of the traditional El Primero virtues remain. As the first fully-integrated high-beat automatic chronograph at the time of its 1969 debut, the El Primero became an icon to enthusiasts and a standard of reference for the industry. Adopted by devotees as varied as Rolex (which employed the El Primero in the 1988-00 Daytona) and members of KISS (avid collectors), the El Primero is as charismatic as it is significant. A 52-hour power reserve keeps the hummingbird-like balance beating far longer than the industry standard 42-hours; crisp column wheel actuation will spoil users accustomed to cam-actuated systems.

Convenience and versatility are highlights. With 100-meter water resistance, the Zenith El Primero Striking 10th is ready for virtually any activity from office work to pool parties. For precise sizing of the bracelet, Zenith makes every single link removable.